The City of Charles Sturt has announced the winner of a competition launched in January 2013 seeking urban design proposals to reinvigorate South Australia’s historic Henley Square and the surrounding area.

Submissions were assessed based on four criteria: overall merit, the integration of diverse land uses, improvements to connectivity and permeability, and fiscal and geographic viability.

Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) and Troppo Architects came up with the winning entry, which also calls for extensive engagement with the local community.

Landscape architecture company TCL has won more than 100 national and international competitions in the last 20 years and is already responsible for a number of important urban design initiatives in South Australia, including the redevelopment of North Terrace, Victoria Square and the Adelaide Oval Bridge.

An Artist's impression of the proposal by Taylor Cullity Lethlean

An Artist’s impression of the proposal by Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) and Troppo Architects.

The Henley Square Urban Design Competition Jury, which included architects, landscape architects and urban designers from Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, unanimously agreed that the winning submission was the most likely to produce a successful outcome for the square while meeting the brief’s many other criteria.

The TCL/Troppo proposal responded to the site’s three fundamental elements: the square, the promenade and the beach, focusing on a sense of fun and demonstrating an interest in working with the existing buildings of Henley Beach.

The new plaza

The new plaza is site for playful opportunities that offer outlooks to a beautiful beach.

“This well-loved coastal suburb has special qualities inherent in the crossings and interaction of people, the spaces and experiences. It forms a littoral zone where cultural space meets the expansive natural qualities of the gulf – where the intimate dwells within the immense and private and public spaces co-exist. Our vision is to create a revitalized square where public space remains for the people,” the architects explained.

“This is not the place for serious highbrow gestures, but a site for playful opportunities that offer new outlooks to a beautiful beach. Open lawns for sports, picnicking, theatre, art and other events, while a promenade circuit allows for evening passeggiata, which is an event in itself.”

Second place went to a design by Tridente Architects + Matt Davis + Sharon Mackay, with third place going to a project by Lahznimmo. A proposal by Aspect Studios and SIX Degrees Architects earned a special commendation.

The plaza at night

The plaza at night, hosting events, markets and concerts.

City of Charles Sturt Mayor Kirsten Alexander expressed enthusiasm over the announcement of a winner being announced and is willing to start working on the detailed design for one of the city’s most prominent community areas.

Jury chair Ben Hewett applauded the city council’s commitment to the competition process.

“One overriding factor for the jury, and one that is important to our City, is that there is capacity to enhance Henley Square’s local unique character that can adapt over time,” he said.

“The Henley square Urban Design Competition demonstrated a commitment by the City of Charles Sturt to develop design led solutions for a complex, multilayered urban space that significantly contributes to the Henley area. TCL demonstrated a keen understanding of the site, brief and challenges of the design to produce a unique and innovative approach that will inform the future development of the area.”

The urban design

The urban design forms a littoral zone where cultural space meets the expansive natural qualities of the site.

The project’s next steps include a key stakeholders meeting between TCL, Troppo architects and the Henley Precinct Community Reference Group to get feedback on the design. This will be followed by an open house on September 8 at the Henley Town Hall, where TCL will present its design and let the community express its opinions online.

Community feedback will be used to develop a final draft plan, which will be presented back in early November 2013. Work on the site is expected to commence in mid-2014.